Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fall/Winter Jackets: Fjallraven Fjell, Oban, Cantwell, Greenland Mini-Reviews

Threw up some videos of my "workhorse" jackets, so why not throw a few words together about them?

Why four jackets?
I have four Fjallraven jackets: two for fall/spring and two for winter. It wasn't so much as an, "I love these jackets so much, I just have to have them all". More accurately, I realized that I was missing things like a hood or fur trim, so I wanted a new jacket that had those things. That's not to say the ones that were replaced were bad.

Why Fjallraven?
Each jacket set me back at least CAD$ 200 -- these were not exactly cheap to replace. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of brands that I could have went with, but I kept going back to Fjallraven because it is a Swedish company that uses an European (slimmer) fit. Being short and in North America, it has been very difficult to find clothes that fit me off the shelf. Learning which brands work usually happens through trial and error: buy, wear, like a bit, wear again, hate it, past return date, sulk. Luckily, I've learned to try things on extensively at home or in the store to avoid having another paperweight in my closet. Fjallraven is currently my go-to brand for jackets. J.Crew, Gap, and Banana Republic are my go-to brands for other items.

If you haven't noticed, all of the brands I listed are generally "timeless" in that their more classic styles usually stick around a while. They last a few seasons, which makes them look "acceptable" longer and easy to replace -- I hate new things?

Mini-Reviews of the Fjell, Oban, Cantwell, and Greenland
I'll go through each of my jackets and my experiences with them so far. Each one except the Cantwell have been worn for at least a year.

Fjallraven Oban
The first Fjallraven jacket I purchased was the Oban near the end of 2009. It came in XS and I really liked the look of it. There was also a sale on fall items since it was winter -- I was looking for a winter jacket and splurged on something I couldn't wear for another few months. Being a fall/spring jacket, the item does not have insulation and is a simple shell with some water resistance. I haven't had the joy of wearing it in heavy rain yet.

Out of all three of my jackets, the Oban is probably the nicest looking, closest fitting, and most dressy. The straps on the exterior above the waist allow the jacket to keep a suit-like, hourglass shape. There are also a lot of pockets with fancy buttons, which really stand out against the black fabric. And then there's the arm patch.

It is a comfortable jacket, although a bit heavier than the Fjell probably due to the extra material (e.g. fabric for pockets and buttons). I still wear the Oban occasionally, but it usually hangs in my closet because I replaced it with the Fjell that has a hood.
Fjallraven Oban
Fjallraven Greenland Winter Jacket
Bought this one right around the same time as the Oban because I also bought a topcoat at the same time. That topcoat was way too small. This store didn't allow full refunds, only returns for credit, so I went back to get the Greenland -- never went back. There is also a shell-only, non-winter version of this jacket without a Sherpa lining. The Greenland has been my winter workhorse for the past few years and it is my go-to on the coldest, wettest days.

I wear this one a bit begrudgingly because of the looser fit and exposed, white Sherpa lining. The lining is throughout the interior of the jacket and is exposed when the hood isn't worn. I don't like that. It is definitely warm though. On a few occasions, I wore nothing other than a t-shirt inside with a scarf and went out feeling fine on days hovering around 0 C.
Fjallraven Greenland Winter
Snow and flurries tend to bounce off this jacket. I've probably washed it three or four times now and the jacket still holds up against water pretty well. This actually comes as a surprise because I'd have thought the wax had already worn off significantly. Longer, better review here.

Fjallraven Fjell Jacket
The replacement for the Oban. I wanted a hood and I got a hood. This jacket is just a shell and feels much lighter than the Oban. It packs and folds easier, breaths better, and feels like it weighs less. A thorough investigation  hasn't been performed yet, but I believe that the material may be a bit thinner on the Fjell compared to the Oban. This may explain why rain appears to get through this jacket easier.

I have only rinsed it without soap once and even before that, fresh from the store, the first time it rained, I got soaked at the shoulders. If I remember right, the product's supposed to only be good for light rain. It performs well during drizzles and when I have an umbrella to cover flat points (e.g. shoulders, top of head).

On the bright side, this jacket has excellent breathability. I've worn my Fjell on 25 C to 30 C days in the summer -- don't ask -- and it felt better than wearing my summer-weight sweaters. This is my go-to jacket year-round unless it's too cold.
Fjallraven Fjell

My newest unworn jacket purchased as a sort of replacement for the Greenland winter jacket. I wanted a fur trim and something a bit warmer without exposed Sherpa insulation. There was an end of season sale at the beginning of 2013, so I splurged and got this. I still haven't had the opportunity to wear this one yet. It is my most expensive jacket at over CAD$ 300 despite being on sale.
Fjallraven Cantwell
Aesthetically, it is a gorgeous looking jacket and similar to the Canada Goose bomber style that everyone has now. One plus/minus depending on one's beliefs is that the fur is fake. This one is also missing a shoulder patch, which all of my other Fjallraven jackets have.

Update: Finally wore it out of the house. It fits good, looks good, and feels very warm at around 0 C and even at -20 C. The thick, deep, and insulated hood is an excellent head insulator. Only complaint is that the sleeves are long for me -- not a big deal at all since all of my other jackets also have long sleeves, so I roll them. The thicker, insulated sleeves are a bit more difficult to roll than with the Oban and Fjell though. Having a relatively heavy hood also helps with holding the thing in place when the wind blows. Love this coat. It's put my pea coat and Greenland jacket out of business.


Related
Winter 2013: Men's Pea Coats Round-up
J.Crew Garment Bag Overview
J.Crew Stockton Racer Leather Jacket Review
J.Crew Wallace & Barnes Garrison Jacket -- It's back!

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